The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes President Zuma’s planned trip to Zambia tomorrow, on the invitation of the President of Zambia, Edgar Lungu. President Zuma must use this engagement with President Lungu to raise South Africa’s strong objections to the crisis unfolding in Zambia under Lungu’s watch. In particular, President Zuma should denounce the inhumane treatment in prison of the Zambian Leader of the Opposition, Hakainde Hichilema, and to call for his immediate release.
Hichilema was arrested almost four months ago for allegedly attempting to block a motorcade in which President Lungu was a part of. The opposition leader now faces charges of treason – a crime punishable by death in Zambia. The human rights abuses faced by Mr. Hichilema must be condemned in the strongest terms. It is clear that these trumped up charges are a witch hunt by an increasingly threatened President Lungu, and pose a very real threat to democracy on the African continent.
We call on President Zuma to show leadership and disassociate himself with anti-democratic dictators on the continent, such as Edgar Lungu. The “quiet diplomacy” of the past cannot be allowed to repeat itself and, as history has shown, has the potential to allow for democracy to be undermined. South Africa must work with its neighbours to protect democracy because, in Africa, a threat to democracy for some is a threat to democracy for all. .
We will continue to advocate for the advancement of vibrant, competitive, multiparty democracy, the rule of law and the entrenchment of human rights and free speech across Africa.